By: Tonya Foust Mead
Exercising Moral Integrity in a Modern World
In the wake of the Blagojevich scandal, whereby the President-elect’s Senate seat appeared to be up for grabs to the highest bidder, other scandals which bring the moral integrity of our political leaders come to mind. The foibles of Former New York Governor Elliot Spitzer, former Florida Congressman Mark Foley and retiring Idaho Senator Larry Craig come to mind, to name a few.
In the corporate area, the story of Bernard Madoff’s $50 billion Ponzi scheme operated through his New York investment firm, caps off years of scandalous reports from Enron, Tyco International, Adelphia, Peregrine Systems, and World Com. The moral faults of corporate leaders continue to cost investors billions and shake our confidence in the securities markets.
Is there a modern day standard bearer to guide the common man? Are there people here who might project a reflection, an archetype of the ideal? Who protects the moral integrity of our leaders?
Ancient Warrior Code
According to Shannon French, author, The Code of the Warrior: Exploring Warrior Values Past and Present, the essential element of a warrior’s code is to set definite limits on what warriors can and can not do. Definite limits require clarity and transparency. In this sense, warriors value honor, integrity, justice and a sense of what is right and wrong. To the ancient warrior, the discernment between right and wrong is like night and day. Clear, obvious, unquestionable. To them, there areno rationalizations, no gray areas, no “that depends on what your definition of ‘is’ is “(Bill Clinton). To the warrior, if something is not right, he will not do it. He determines what is right and wrong by his strict code of ethics, not arbitrary laws or vague regulations.
Antithesis to Ancient Warriors: Corporate Warriors
In ancient times, one looked to the warrior for guidance to the light; to serve as defenders of moral integrity. Today, though, the warrior, or rather corporate warrior is perceived as mere profiteers. Neocons, using natural disasters, social unrest, changes in regimes and wars- have been used ‘as a natural ally’ of corporate interests. Naomi Klein, in her book, the Shock Doctrine, indicates that heads of companies, representatives of municipalities stood in the rubble of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and thanked God for the solution to the problem of housing in New Orleans. Similarly, PW Singer, in his book, Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry writes that private corporations working for profit have the ability to sway the course of national and international conflict. Further, he argues in an updated edition, the integration of profit maximization onto the battlefield produces troubling implications for democracy, ethics, management and human rights.
Warriors of Light
Paulo Coelho, in his book, Manual of the Warrior of Light made this observation:
The warrior allows his two lives to draw near. ‘There is a bridge that links what I do with what I would like to do,’ he thinks. Slowly, his dream take over his everyday life, and then he realizes that he is ready for the thing he always wanted. Then all that is needed is a little daring, and his two lives become one.” page 181.
The personality theorist, Karen Horney postulated that the closer one’s real self is to one’s ideal self, the more pleasurable and peaceful your life will be.
Ancient warriors have tended to carry out actions that brought them closer to their higher ideals; whereas unscrupulous political and corporate warriors, capitalize on weak. What is a warrior of light? Would you recognize one if you saw him or her? How might we attain warrior of light status?
Friends, Comrades, Companions and Allies
First, we need to de-bunk the myth that warriors are ‘lone wolves.’ Throughout pop western culture, American icons: John Wayne, Rambo, Clint Eastwood, have presented the ideal warriors. These warriors exercise independence of mind, thought and action. Often, they are presented as strong, devoid of emotions, and ruthless. The recurring red-herring among the widely accepted stories of these cultural icons is the overwhelming feeling of aloneness, detachment from family and the glaring absence of friends.
A warrior of light, however, appears to revel in the company of friends, followers and allies. People choose to follow leaders because the leader understands and more importantly, radiates his personal and unshakable belief that his success is based upon his ability to influence, manage, communicate and ultimately meet the unmet needs of others. The warrior also knows that the bonds that meld the group to him proves most resilient to any threat when his band gathers because of charity, love and faith rather than his status, title or position. Twyan Towery, in his book The Wisdom of Wolves, argues that the ‘strength of the wolf is the pack, and the strength of the pack is the wolf.’ Coelho starts this philosophical thought with the quotation from John Donne as it appears in Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, Meditation XVII, and continues in his own words.
“No man is an island. He can not fight alone; whatever his plan, he depends on other people. He needs to discuss his strategy, to ask for help, and in moments of relaxation- to have someone with whom he can sit by the fire, someone he can regale with tales of the battle… A warrior of light dances with his companions, but does not place the responsibility for his actions on anyone else.” page 103.
When selecting alternative courses of action, perhaps the warrior too, relies upon the wisdom and dutiful advice of his closest friends. Prior to taking part in a nonsensical, whimsical act, how many have been spared public humiliation and punishment because a colleague stepped in with a timely intervention?
Second, warriors of light recognize that they are fallible. Success doesn’t go to their head. They don’t think they are above the law. They don’t think that, ‘everyone is doing it, so will I.’ Therefore, they don’t go into their toughest battles alone. Theologians report that there are roughly 300 references to angels in the Bible. Generally, they are represented as spiritual beings that intermediate between God and men. The word angel, in Latin angelus, Greek aggelos or in Hebrew means divine or human messenger. Many believe that each man has an assigned ‘guardian angel,
‘Take heed that you despise not the little ones; for I say to you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 18:10).
Coelho presents warriors of light as men who steadfastly rely upon angels, God and Jesus Christ. This is another aspect of the warrior of light that contrasts markedly with American cultural icons. The critical may question, “Isn’t it true that warriors leave in their wake, mayhem, destruction, death and sorrow? If this is so, how is it remotely possible that warriors of light are led by angels?”
“A warrior knows that an angel and a devil are both competing for his sword hand. The devil says: ‘You will weaken. You will not know exactly when. You are afraid. ‘ the angel says: ‘You will weaken. You will not know exactly when. You are afraid.’
The warrior is surprised. Both angel and devil have said the same thing. Then the devil goes on: ‘Let me help you.’ And the angel says: ‘I will help you.’ At that moment, the warrior understands the difference. The words may be the same, but these two allies are completely different. And he chooses the angel’s hand.” page 123.
Upon reflection, one may surmise that though the aftermath of the conquest looks the same, whether the conventional warrior or the warrior of light was the victor; the warrior of light is guided by the purest of intention. An intention based upon love, faith and hope. Void of personal ego, selfish will, and revenge; Thy will it seems, is the fuel that drives the warrior of light’s personal engine to reach his divine destiny.
Unresolved confusion may still reside and swell up within the unbeliever. To a hardhead (of which I am from time to time), a warrior and one of light is still an oxymoron. How can the two co-exist in the same individual? Further, if the consequences of battles between a warrior of light and a conventional warrior look much the same (blood, gore, death, destruction and human loss), how then would a follower discern among the two, I ponder? How does the warrior of light know that the purpose for which he is fighting is just and pure? According to Coelho,
‘The warrior of light meditates. He sits in a quiet place in his tent and surrenders himself to the divine light…. While he mediates, the warrior is not himself, but a spark from the Soul of the World. These are the moments that give him an understanding of his responsibilities and of how he should behave accordingly. A warrior of light knows that in the silence of his heart he will hear an order that will guide him.” page 55.
Coelho indicates that nature walks, respect of the small, and in daily meditations, if undertaken religiously by both the warrior of light and his followers, the Truth will be revealed. Prayer, daily meditation and the quest to seek the ultimate truth will lead to the sound evaluation of the warrior’s intentions. To do so means that a warrior of light must make great efforts to collaborate and work in cooperation with his band, allies and followers so that they will know his heart. The creed of the warrior of light then is to harm no one unnecessarily, to refrain from fighting those who are not worthy of battle and to be sure that your intentions are indeed guided by The One.
One would readily suspect that warriors, those who must exact judgment on a daily basis, are driven by hatred and unfettered greed. Through the ages it has been believed that warriors are strong, mighty, respected and feared among one’s enemies and competitors. It is assumed that they, therefore, possess hardened hearts, empty souls and constant thoughts of me, me, meeeeeeee. Instead, according to Coelho,
“The warrior of light always keeps his heart free of any feelings of hatred. When he goes into battle he remembers what Christ said:’ Love your enemies.’ But he knows that the act of forgiveness does not mean that he must accept everything; a warrior can not bow his head, for if he did he would lose sight of the horizon of his dreams. He accepts that his opponents are there to test his valor, his persistence, his ability to make decisions. They force him to fight for his dreams. It is the experience of battle that strengthens the warrior of light.” p. 87
As keepers of the light, warriors are born into this world with a spark of light. With each passing day, month and year, warriors evolve. Their spark flickers into a small and then larger flame through prayer, meditation and connection to the One.
Further, hatred, greed and fear, we’re told are negative energy forces that thrives upon and eats away one’s positive traits; weakening the body’s defenses, immune system and discolors his ability to think with rational objectivity. We turn to Coelho again for clarification,
“Accumulating love brings luck, accumulating hatred brings calamity. Anyone who fails to recognize problems leaves the door open for tragedies to rush in.” page 53.
The dark force of hatred and greed acts as a cancer, eating anything in its path. It destroys the organism from within. So, the dutiful warrior of cleanses his spiritual body daily. He cuts his negative thoughts out of his mind with precision. Afterwards, he bathes his mind, body and soul with the healing light of God. He takes great care to grow his flame with thoughts of loving kindness.
In the end, the warrior of light is on a quest to do the seemingly impossible. To complete a mission, to reach a destiny that is uniquely his. By living his life, utilizing his innate talents to the fullest, he will make better the world; he believe this as does his Maker. To be undeterred, he refers to Coelho, who on page 35 writes,
“From now on—and for the next few hundred years—the Universe is going to help warriors of light and hinder the prejudiced. The earth’s energy needs to be renewed. New ideas need space. Body and soul need new challenges. The future has become the present, and every dream—expect those dreams that involve preconceived ideas—will have a chance to be heard. Anything of importance will remain; anything useless will disappear. However, it is not the warrior’s responsibility to judge the dreams of others, and he does not waste time criticizing other people’s decisions. In order to have faith in his own path, he does not need to prove that someone else’s path is wrong.”
How does a warrior of light gain the strength to continue along a path replete with physical and psychological barriers? Coelho recommends the following:
“The warrior of light sometimes behaves like water, flowing around the obstacles he encounters. Occasionally, resisting might mean being destroys, and so he adapts to the circumstances. He accepts without complaint that the stones along the path hinder his way across the mountains. Therein lies the strength of water: it cannot be shattered by a hammer or wounded by a knife. The strongest sword in the world cannot scar its surface. The waters of a river adapt themselves to whatever route proves possible, but the river never forgets its one objective: the sea. So fragile at its source, it gradually gathers the strength of the other rivers it encounters. And, after a certain point, its power is absolute.” page 67.
And finally, when the corporate or political warrior reaches temporary defeat, he is comforted by this,
“The warrior of light unwittingly takes a false step and plunges into the abyss. Ghosts frighten him and solitude torments him. His aim had been to fight the Good Fight, and he never imagined that this would happen to him, but it did. Shrouded in darkness, he makes contact with his master. ‘Master, I have fallen into the abyss,’ he says. ‘The waters are deep and dark.’ ‘Remember one thing, ‘ replies his master. ‘You do not drown simply by plunging in to the water, you only drown if you stay beneath the surface.’ And the warrior uses all his strength to escape from his predicament.” page 129.
So too, there is hope then for the likes of political and corporate warriors such as Blagojevich and Madoff. Get up, dust yourself off, try again. Aim to respect the true code of the warrior; value honor, integrity, justice and a sense of what is right and wrong.
Dr. Mead, PhD, MBA, MA http://www.ishareknowledge.com is a consultant specializing in human behavior, school and social psychology. She can be contacted at: tonya.ishareknowledge.com